It's become a bit of trivia among "Star Wars" fans that creator George Lucas allegedly took inspiration from both the term jidai geki (historical drama) when creating the word "jedi" and Akira Kurosawa's film "The Hidden Fortress." Those aren't the only Japanese references in the series; from Darth Vader's yoroi-inspired helmet to Obi-Wan Kenobi's Toshiro Mifune-esque samurai robes, the Japanese influence on "Star Wars" is undeniable.

And so like everywhere else, anticipation in Japan for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the seventh and latest installment of the massively popular space opera series, is high. While Lucas is not involved in this latest episode (Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 and will be producing all future installments), that hasn't deterred the excitement of fans.

"The energy is different from 16 years ago," says You Katagiri, owner of Star Case, a "Star Wars" specialty shop located in Tokyo's Koenji neighborhood. "For (1999's) 'The Phantom Menace,' Lucasfilm was trying to get the core fans excited. But this time Disney seems to be trying really hard to bring in casual fans. You can really feel the excitement."